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©2024, Erin Haight

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Photo: Oakland Tribune, September 7, 1960

Gene Prebola

Eugene Nicholas Prebola
Born June 30, 1938, New York City
Died December 10, 2021, Sparta Township, New Jersey, age 83

6'3“, 225 lbs
Boston University

Born in the Bronx, Gene Prebola grew up in the suburb of West New York, New Jersey, where he attended Memorial High School. He ran track at Memorial High, but it was on the gridiron where he made his name, as an end on one of the top football schools in the state.

After high school he played football and basketball for Boston University. Despite a series of injuries over his three-year varsity career with the Terriers, he played well enough to be picked by the Lions in 19th round of the 1960 NFL draft and by the Oilers in the AFL draft. At some point his AFL rights must have been traded to Minneapolis/St. Paul, because when the league transferred the rights of the former Minneapolis/St. Paul picks to Oakland, Prebola’s was included on the list.

Prebola was a steady performer at tight end for the Raiders in 1960, finishing third on the team with 33 catches. Late in the season, his playing time began to diminish in favor of Doug Asad, and when the Raiders’ 1961 camp got underway, Asad continued to earn most of the first-string minutes. Desperate for help on the offensive line, the team traded him to the Broncos in exchange for guard Willie Smith.

Prebola spent three years in Denver netting an even 100 receptions in that time but began to miss his East Coast roots and asked for a trade in the 1964 offseason. The Broncos granted his request, sending him to his hometown Jets as part of a nine-man deal that March. However, the league’s level of play had been steadily improving and Jets coach Weeb Ewbank cut him just before the season started.

He hung on for a while in semi-pro ball, playing for the Newark Bears of the Atlantic Coast Football League, but he also took a job coaching the football team at Snyder High in Jersey City and focused on that full-time after 1965. In 1968 he joined the faculty of Indian Hills High School in Oakland, New Jersey, where he taught physical education, and was an assistant coach in football. He stayed at Indian Hills for the next 32 years, taking over the track-and-field team in 1974. He gave up his football post in the mid-1990s, but was a fixture of the area’s track-and-field scene until his retirement in 2000.

Prebola died of heart disease at his home in Sparta Township in 2021 at the age of 83, survived by his wife, four children, nine grandchildren, and more than a generation of appreciative students.


March 3, 1960 - AFL transferred his contract from Houston to Oakland.

August 10, 1961 - Traded to the Denver Broncos for Willie Smith.

See also

gene_prebola.txt · Last modified: 2024/01/11 23:56 by ehaight